December 9, 2020

It’s hard to imagine being shocked at news that someone had died at the age of 97. But if there were ever a man whom you could imagine being tough enough to take Death’s scythe away from him and chase him off with it, it’s retired Brigadier General Chuck Yaeger, whose wife Victoria announced on Twitter that he had passed away Monday night. We offer our sympathy and prayers for his family.

The legendary test pilot was the personification of the term “The Right Stuff,” the title of the Tom Wolfe book and movie about the NASA space program that appropriately began its story back on October 14, 1947. That’s when Yaeger strapped in behind the controls of the rocket-propelled Bell X-1 plane nicknamed the “Glamorous Glennis” and launched the space age, becoming the first man to break the sound barrier at 700 mph. Just six years later, he was setting new records by flying at 1600 mph.

His daring test pilot accomplishments were only a part of his amazing life story, which included 64 combat missions in World War II (he was shot down once, evaded capture, and made it back safely) and returning to combat flights decades later during the Vietnam War. He was a true American hero, recipient of the highest honors including the Presidential Medal of Freedom, and an inspiration to soldiers, pilots, astronauts and every American.

You can read more about his remarkable life at the link above. And here’s a clip from “The Right Stuff,” dramatizing the moment when Chuck Yaeger piloted America into the space age by breaking the sound barrier. I hope this will make you want to watch the entire film, because it’s a humdinger of a movie.

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  • Kevin Neil Schwinkendorf

    05/09/2021 11:40 PM

    I once missed meeting Chuck Yeager by only a few minutes! I and my business partner (Mike) were scheduled for a meeting with the President of RCBS, Art Peters (the Oroville, CA, ammunition reloading equipment maker) regarding software we were partnering with them to sell. It turns out Yeager lived near there and knew the folks at RCBS very well and often would stop in for a visit. Art must have told Yeager that they had another meeting coming up soon (that would be with us) and so Yeager left just before we got there. Art then mentioned in passing that we just missed Chuck Yeager, and we both exclaimed, "CHUCK YEAGER??? You mean THE CHUCK YEAGER???!!!" We were both huge fans, which they relayed to the General. Soon after we got home, we both received autographed photos of him in uniform, standing in front of a B-2 bomber! Mine reads, "To Kevin, Good Shooting! Chuck Yeager." That framed photo hangs in my living room right now. As a humorous sidenote, Art knew that my partner was a private pilot, so he must have relayed that fact to Yeager also, so Mike's autographed photo said, "To Mike, Fly Safe! Chuck Yeager." I found it funny that Mike wished his autograph had also said "Good Shooting!"

  • Anne Suran

    12/12/2020 12:48 PM

    Thank you for writing a tribute for Chuck Yeager, I can't help to notice though that the spelling of his last name throughout the tribute is spelled wrong as Yaeger.....
    Or, is that really the spelling.
    I'm looking forward to watching the movie.
    Thank you.

  • Mark Fiedler

    12/11/2020 09:13 AM

    Yeager was a legend, probably the greatest pilot who ever lived. Bob Hoover, who passed away a few years ago, could never beat him in a dogfight while they were test pilots at Edwards Air Force Base, nor Yeager getting the better of him either, no matter what type of fighter plane they were flying. Despite the fact that both of them were shot down in World War II, the experience gained honed their skills even more. The top Soviet Aces in the Korean War, Yevgeny Pepleyeyev, and Nickolai Sutiagin flying MiG-15s, had they known Yeager and Hoover had been assigned combat duty in F-86 Sabres, would probably not wish to dogfight either one of them!

  • Stephen Randall Bailey

    12/11/2020 03:54 AM

    “The Right Stuff” is one of the greatest movies ever made, and it recalls the lives of some of the bravest men that ever lived. That’s hard to find nowadays.